At the end of today’s story on a possible bond election to rehab three of the city’s fire stations, I reported that the city council’s tour of the stations yesterday came as the council was also presented with a report on the fire department’s facilities.
Here is a copy of that report. FD Facilities Optimization Study
The department conducted the study to supplement its strategic plan, which seeks to provide a 4-minute response to large swaths of the city. Even though the oldest stations need to be replaced (at Station 3, If the truck bounces too much on the way out for a call, it hits the top of the door frame), they are in good locations, the study found.
The study also proposes two new stations, one on the west side and one on the southeast side, in the coming years. And it also reminds the reader that other fire departments, comparable in size to Denton’s, have dedicated training facilities and Denton does not.
The city tabled a proposal to build the training facilities around Station 7 six years ago and has yet to take up the matter again.
The training compound would include a taller burn tower (firefighters reminded the council that new apartment buildings are going to five stories), a swift water training stream and pond, and other facilities.
Denton and Rayzor Investments got an early Christmas present from Denton County on Dec. 21. The commissioners agreed to participate in the city’s proposed tax-increment reinvestment zone for about 800 acres of land in the city’s growing industrial park on the west side of town.
Over the years, I’ve watched the county commissioners rebuff a number of requests to participate in tax-increment finance districts. To check myself, I went to the state registry to be sure. The only other registered zone is Lewisville’s old town — and that deal went through in 2001.
Both the city and the county are in for 40 percent of new value after 2012. In other words, the zone can use 40 percent of what both the city and the county collect in new property taxes for the next 25 years to pay off bonds for public infrastructure built in the zone. For an industrial area, that could add up fast. Not only taxes on buildings and other improvements to the land would contribute to the zone, but also taxes on business personal property.
Currently, the proposed projects include $8 million for streets, $5 million for utilities and drainage, and $1.3 million to support industrial projects.
Not sure what “support industrial projects” means (would the proposed combined heat and power plant be eligible?), but we can watch and report on the proceedings of the zone’s board of directors to see where that tax money goes.
The zone would be governed by a board that has nine appointees from the city, one from Rayzor and one from the county.
Rachel Mehlhaff is rounding up more information and will report in the Denton Business-Chronicle. Watch for that on Jan. 16.
In response to our Sunday story about the early emergence of flu, Teri Johnson, with Health Services of North Texas wrote to say that their clinic is offering the shots for $10.
No appointments are required, she said, as the clinic is trying to make it quick and easy to take this important preventive step.
Johnson’s family didn’t get the shots before her 9-year-old daughter got sick.
“[She] came home very sick last Monday and is just now today going back to school. This particular strain of the flu had her down with fever, sore throat, achy and coughing for 7 days,” she wrote.
Here is a flyer with more information. Flu Shot Promo
Readers are interested in seeing the changes the city made for vested rights. These edits were completed before the rest of the natural gas drilling and production ordinance rewrites are finished. While they apply to all property owners, energy operators may be able to claim vested rights in order to drill and produce under the city’s old rules. Here is the marked-up version of the ordinance adopted last night. Vested Rights Ordinance (mark-up version)
It was Krampustag on the Square Wednesday evening.
The giant-horned, metal-booted, long-tongued, hairy, scary sidekick to St. Nick dangled his hunting bounty – more than a dozen tiny arms and legs – from his belt. But he spared passing pedestrians his wrath and beatings. Instead, from about 4:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. Wednesday, Krampus and his band of merry men and women passed out presents to random motorists, shoppers and others passing by.
Krampus studies passersby on the Square Wednesday evening to see whether they have been naughty this year
Krampus is a lesser-known figure from the same 17th Century Germanic folklore that gave us St. Nicholas. While St. Nick passed out gifts to good children, Krampus visited the homes of naughty children and beat them, stuffing some in a sack to be eaten later.
In Austria and other parts of Europe, Krampus Day is celebrated on Dec. 5, the day before St. Nicholas Day.
Former Denton resident Alicia Holston said a group coalesced around a Facebook announcement of the event. They bought and gathered presents for most of the year, passing out 764 in all on Wednesday night.
The city of Denton polled users of its new website, Engage Denton, on a proposed smoking ban in the city back in January, February and March. A wide majority of the site’s users (60 percent to nearly 80 percent, depending on how the data is grouped) favored such a ban.
The company that powers the website, Mind Mixer, took the data and created some graphics for the city. The council’s new committee on citizen engagement looked at the charts yesterday, the task force studying the measure saw the tables last week.
The attached document shows the poll results in charts by age, gender and area of the city in which the respondents live.
The council is expected to take up the matter during its regular meeting next week.
Denton has paid more than $43,000 so far, and has the potential to pay out more than $165,000, for consulting fees and expenses in the re-write of its gas drilling rules.
I made an open records request to learn more about where the money was going. Here they are: GasOrdConsultants
Last week, Denton Municipal Electric sent a 19-member crew to Long Island to help restore power after Hurricane Sandy.
DME tweeted out this photo Tuesday showing the crews at work.
The work is appreciated by the people of Long Island. Wednesday, as a strong winter storm was approaching, Long Island resident Kim Rocha tweeted out this photo from in front of her home.
And she offered these kind words on Twitter:
Thank you my saviors from Texas! Tonight I have power because of your awesome men! BIG HUGS from LI NY
She had been without power for 10 days.
UPDATE: Social media editor Karina Ramirez created a Storify of DME in Long Island so far. You can view it here.
Went back into the maps — a nifty new reporting tool on the Denton County Elections Administration web site — to see if I could find more information about the data that “drew” those maps for precinct-by-precinct results in Denton’s early voting.
So glad I did.
The “ties” were actually three precincts that saw no early voters. 0-0 is the tie.
The precinct that came in “against” the proposition saw just one early voter. 0-1 is the ballot.
Maps are wonderful visualizations, but only if we keep in mind what’s being “drawn.”
Got to precinct at about 8:20 a.m. Denton Christian Church had two electronic ballot stations both being used with one person in line and 10 plus empty paper ballot stations. So I returned my electronic receipt and asked for the paper ballot because it was faster. Saw one lady begin to leave because the precinct didn’t have her info and spent time waiting to hear back about her status. The precinct judge told her to stick around while they figured things out. One dude showed up to the wrong polling place. The paper ballot was much easier and faster than the electronic ballot. When I walked out the precinct started to get a moderate crowd of people.